July 12, 2016
A small-to-medium sized business (SMB) faces many of the same challenges as an enterprise organization, however, an SMB doesn’t have the same resources to overcome obstacles. The IT department of an SMB is almost always small, consisting of a handful of professionals tasked with a huge responsibility. The challenge of maintaining, improving, and building an IT environment for a small business is multi-faceted and complex. Here, we take a look at three of the most pervasive issues and possible solutions for each.
Big IT Challenges for the SMB
Mobility and BYOD
Smartphones have revolutionized the way in which we interact with technology. Suddenly, all the world’s knowledge and the full capabilities of the internet fit into our pockets. Whether technology-minded or not, a drastic change is going to alter the way we do business day by day.
Professionals today want to use their own smartphone, computer, applications, and tools to complete their work, yet this creates extreme data vulnerability through an effect called “Shadow IT.” If the whole company is using their own third-party applications in unregulated, unmonitored ways, the opportunity for a data breach heightens to almost an inevitability.
The challenge is a big one. IT must find a way to allow the workforce to use the tools they are most comfortable with, enable mobility, and still maintain security.
Solution: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
VDI removes the desktop operating system from a device and stores it centrally in the data center. End users can then use whatever device they wish and boot up a virtual desktop so long as they can connect to the internet. With some VDI applications, even that internet connection is unnecessary. This can make desktop and endpoint management far easier for the IT team, and provide a much-needed level of security.
For example, an employee can have whatever programs they want on their personal laptop and still use that same laptop for work if they like. These personal applications will not impact the virtual desktop at all. It segments the experience, so users can segregate their work from their personal lives. Even if the employee were to lose their laptop, any files or applications saved in the virtual desktop don’t actually exist on that computer at all. They live in the corporate data center.
Finding Qualified and Trained Personnel
Technology is ultimately about people. If we don’t have trained, experienced, and knowledgeable human beings at the helm of our IT environments, they will be of little use to us.
Across the country, there is a need for qualified, trained technology professionals. Every business, from a mobile app startup to a landscaping company, requires a technology infrastructure and an experienced team to support it. The problem is that SMBs often cannot fill open positions or find a specialist to assist with new initiatives.
Deploying a solution like VDI could yield amazing efficiencies for the company, as outlined above, but if the staff cannot maintain the application, there isn’t a point in deploying it. It creates a terrible Catch-22. You need to improve the environment to attract more experienced staff, but you can’t improve the environment without the staff to support the new applications.
Solution: Managed Services
Managed Services is a clear solution to this problem. Whether on a temporary or permanent basis, a managed services agreement grants an SMB access to top-tier trained professionals to monitor, maintain, or even fully administrate a portion of their environment. In this example, an SMB could deploy Citrix XenDesktop (a VDI solution), reap all the benefits, and pay for it using its operational, rather than its capital, budget.
Improving Workforce Productivity
Every single business on the planet, large or small, can benefit from a more productive workforce. Increasing productivity is the overarching goal of technology as a whole. How can we do more, work faster, and achieve greater accomplishments in the same amount of time? As a small business, there is a greater imperative. Often SMBs face a competitor that is larger, older, and has better brand recognition than they do. In order to properly compete, their small company needs to overcome some stark odds.
There are a million ways to improve productivity in a workforce, but collaboration technology is a low hanging fruit. In the modern workplace, email is inefficient. It is time-consuming to search through old records and it isn’t conducive to back and forth conversation. Instead, we recommend a robust collaboration solution, such as Cisco Jabber and Spark or Microsoft Skype for Business. Both solutions deliver chat, screensharing, video, presence, voice, and more to your workforce. Using such solutions, employees no longer need to try and explain a complex issue through email. In just a few clicks, they can make a video call, share their screen, visually demonstrate their problem, and receive feedback in real time.
Small Business Disruptors
Technology has done something amazing. It has lowered the bar of entry for almost every industry. With the right technology, vision, and tenacity, a small business can disrupt long-standing institutions in our society. Look at the effect Uber has had on the taxi industry in just a few years. A simple phone application has completely upended a business-model that hasn’t changed much since the invention of the car. The same dynamic is bound to repeat itself over and over again in every industry in the market today.
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